Friday, April 20, 2012

7 West Bistro Grille

Mr Minx and I had a Chewpon to World of Crepes, but couldn't find the place (turns out it had changed names) so we ended up across York Road at 7 West Bistro Grille. (Not sure if it's really a bistro or a grill, or if it really needs that extra "e.") We had heard good things about the place, were hungry, and there it was.

The space is rather cavernous, with high ceilings and exposed brick walls. The front half of the restaurant is the bar area, and by 6:30 it was full of noisy post-work revelers getting their drink on. I can only imagine how loud the place gets when it's completely packed.

We were led to a table in the back, which was quieter, at least for a while. One good thing about arriving during Happy Hour is that the half price appetizer discount applies to the whole restaurant, and not just the bar area. We ordered the dip sampler, which including taramosalata, tzatziki, eggplant dip, and hummus and wedges of warm pita. "Dip" is rather misleading, as the four thick-textured items on the plate would be better described as "spreads." That said, they were all quite tasty, particularly the smooth and garlicky hummus. Between the spreads, bread basket, and bowl of fruity olive oil, we got full pretty fast.

Then the entrées came out. Mr Minx ordered the whole branzino (the menu calls it bronzini, but I'm partial to the Italian term for this European sea bass) with rice pilaf and broccoli, and I couldn't pass up the evening's crab cake special.

The crab cake was huge, full of jumbo lumps. Honestly, I don't really get the appeal of jumbo lump crab cakes. The huge chunks of crab tend to be dry, and unless a goodly amount of breading is used to mortar them together, the thing falls apart. Maybe tourists like them. Anyhoo...7 West's crab cake wasn't too dry, and there wasn't an extreme amount of breading, but overall, I didn't think it had much flavor. My side of green beans, however, were extremely flavorful, redolent of tomato and mint. The broccoli was a bit undercooked for my taste. However, the whole shebang was $12.95, and I had enough left over for a hefty lunch the next day, so I really shouldn't complain that much.

Mr Minx's branzino came to the table whole - with head and tail - and piping hot, with crispy skin and fluffy flesh. It was also full of bones. (For $24, I think I have every right to expect the fish to be boned. After all, I paid $24 for a three course lunch at a very nice restaurant in New York that served their branzino boned.) The accompanying rice pilaf tasted reheated. Honestly, if you can't make rice properly, don't serve it at all.

I have mixed feelings about this meal. Some elements were very good, and they were the Mediterranean-style ones - the spreads, the green beans. The branzino was well cooked, but sloppily presented. The crab cake was certainly better than some I've had recently and well worth the price, but it could have been better. Perhaps if we had stuck to the Greek items on the menu, we would have had a more successful meal. Maybe next time.

7 West Bistro Grille
7 W Chesapeake Ave
Towson, MD 21286
(410) 337-9378

7 West Bistro Grille on Urbanspoon

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